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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines(2003)
A decade has passed since John Connor helped prevent Judgment Day and save mankind from mass destruction. Now, 25, Connor lives "off the grid" - no home, no credit cards, no cell phone and no job. No record of his existence. No way he can be traced by Skynet - the highly developed network of machines that once tried to kill him and wage war on humanity. Until?out of the shadows of the future steps the T-X, Skynet's most sophisticated cyborg killing machine yet. Sent back through time to complete the job left unfinished by her predecessor, the T-1000, this machine is as relentless as her human guise is beautiful. Now Connor's only hope for survival is the Terminator, his mysterious former assassin. Together, they must triumph over the technologically superior T-X and forestall the looming threat of Judgment Day?or face the apocalypse and the fall of civilization as we know it.
For more about Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and the Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray release, see Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 19, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, David Andrews, Mark Famiglietti
Director: Jonathan Mostow
» See full cast & crew
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray Review
You're terminated, 1080i transfer.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 19, 2011
Skynet has become self-aware.
Instead of Rise of the Machines, perhaps Director Jonathan Mostow's (U571) entry into the Terminator franchise should have been called Terminator 3: Inevitable, as in a sequel in the franchise that spawned one of the best and most successful small Science Fiction films of all time and one of the biggest and baddest Summer movies ever made was inevitable. More to the point of this film and the franchise, however, it's clear that inevitability plays a critical factor in the fictional future (and past and present) world of The Terminator. Sure, "there is no fate but what we make for ourselves," but fate is merely a fancier word for "inevitable," for fate may be shaped and determined and prophesied, but whatever fate has in store is ultimately the "inevitable." In the Terminator universe, fate -- the inevitable -- is the nuclear exchange initiated by Skynet that brings about, yes, the Rise of the Machines. For all the flak that Rise of the Machines has received, Mostow's film captures the very essence of the Terminator franchise perhaps better than any other picture in the series. It might lack the raw vision of the original or the absolute big-movie bonanza spit and polish and fun factor of the sequel, but Rise of the Machines serves as a meat-and-potatoes sort of entry in the franchise that merely sets the table for the rest of the films in the series, both the two that came before it and those that will come after it. Ain't time travel fun?
Once again, a Terminator has been sent back in time to eliminate future resistance fighters in man's war against the machines in a post-apocalyptic hell ravaged by nuclear war. Amongst her targets -- yes, the latest Terminator arrives in the shapely figure of beautiful young woman (Kristanna Loken) -- is Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), daughter of an Air Force bigwig who's about to unwittingly unleash Skynet on the world. Kate is also the future first Lieutenant of human resistance leader John Connor (Nick Stahl) who's been living off the grid since his mother's death, working odd jobs and wondering if past adventures have altered his fate and saved mankind. John inadvertently -- or is it fate -- winds up breaking into an animal clinic where Kate works when he comes in need of medical supplies. The two are ambushed by the Terminatrix but are rescued by a captured and reprogrammed model T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent back in time to once again protect John, and this time, Kate, too, from elimination. As they evade the seemingly unstoppable Terminatrix, a model even further advanced from the deadly T-1000, the Terminator brings John and Kate up to speed on their future together in the resistance. When they believe they see an opening to stop the "inevitable" commencement of Judgment Day, they scramble to pull the plug on Skynet despite long odds and the Termintor's specific programming and Kate's father's insistence on guaranteeing the safety of John and Kate above all else.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines may be little more than a long build-up to its ever-wonderful bold finale, but what a fun little build-up it is. Though the film serves a purpose as a bridge of sorts within the Terminator universe, the picture is primarily a loud Summer Action flick that's the very definition of "big." Director Jonathan Mostow rarely allows the film to go more than a few minutes without a major action scene, and the remaining minutes are filled by plugging in holes within the Terminator timeline, paying respect to the series's roots through the implementation of little subtle looks and lines that fans will be quick to catch, or having a little bit of fun to offset the seriousness of the picture and the adrenaline of the action with some much-needed and, surprisingly, zippy and enjoyable one-liners. However, it's action that's the film's big seller, and "robust" aptly describes it. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is everything fans could want in terms of mindless entertainment; it's slick, well-conceived, and strongly executed. The scope of the action befits the Terminator name and the strength of the dueling cybernetic characters who transform their environment into weapons of mass destruction that kill pretty much everything but the primary characters. Mostow proves a worthy helmsman for a picture of this size, not only one-upping the previous entries in terms of sheer scope of action but refusing to settle for anything less than one of cinema's most daring finales that is definitely this film's claim to fame, a critical element in the franchise, and a bold statement that challenges traditional Hollywood structure while reinforcing the series's primary theme of inevitability.
For the sheer pleasure that is the film's ending -- and, no, it's not wrong to "cherish" a finale such as this; that's the beauty of cinema and art in general, the ability to relish in something that would elicit the opposite response in real life -- it would not work without a quality script, delicate direction, and a few convincing performances that all not only treat the series's history and established lore with respect but establish Rise of the Machines as a necessary cog in Terminator history. James Cameron's fingerprints are all over Rise of the Machines, even if he's associated with the film only in the capacity as the series's creator. Maybe Mostow's film isn't quite as tight, smart, or instantly classic as Cameron's films, but as far as its place in the franchise, there's no question that Rise of the Machines is a welcome and necessary addition. Granted, it certainly takes the ending to make the picture worthwhile -- there's really not a lot going on other than a few revelations and plenty of action before it -- but that final act really solidifies the franchise as something more tangible, and actually witnessing the start of the war rather than merely hearing about is not only a treat for fans but the realization of series's cornerstone theme. That the film doesn't sacrifice the integrity of the franchise is its best asset, followed closely by a few good performances that sell the greater picture. Schwarzenegger is, of course, terrific once again in his signature role; he's somehow not quite as menacing in this film as in either of the first two installments, looking a little older and moving a little slower but still playing the part like he was born for it. Stahl and Danes are good, if not a little whiny; Stahl is definitely the weakest of the on-screen incarnations of John Connor, but by the end Stahl has audiences believing him to be a viable leader of the resistance.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray, Video Quality
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines's initial Blu-ray release was notable for a bugaboo that displayed a 1080i image for the primary feature but displayed the proper 1080p image only in conjunction with the included picture-in-picture supplement. Warner soon thereafter issued a corrected pressing. At this time, it appears that all new stock at Amazon.com is the 1080p transfer, but extra-nervous buyers can verify the corrected pressing through the UPC code "883929016938." Now, as to Warner's 1080p transfer, it's good, but not quite elite. Black levels fluctuate between appearing a little too heavy-handed in spots, revealing a fair bit of evident crush, but looking inky and sturdy in other scenes; the beginning of the movie looks particularly overwhelmed by crush. The 1080p transfer does retain a light layer of film grain, but the image is nevertheless a hair soft throughout and detailing generally ranges between "adequate" and "good," favoring the latter. Facial textures are nicely intricate, but a somewhat flat overall image doesn't allow the smaller nuanced details to spring to life. Colors are steady, but this isn't exactly a vibrant movie. The cemetery shootout midway through the film features lavish greens, but there's otherwise little in the way of bright colors in the film; even the Terminatrix's maroon-colored outfit doesn't jump off the screen in suitably bright scenes. Flesh tones tend to favor a slightly warm shade. The transfer is technically strong, featuring only an inconsequential amount of banding and no perceptible blocking. A few random white speckles do appear from time to time. This transfer could stand to be a little less soft and show a little more detail, but for the most part it's a solid, if unspectacular, Blu-ray image.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While the 1080p/1080i mix-up has been corrected for this release, Warner chose not to take advantage of the redo to include the lossless soundtrack Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines deserves. Indeed, this release features the same carryover Dolby Digital 5.1 track as its mixed-up predecessor, but the good news is that as far as lossy soundtracks go this is one of the best in the business. It belts out every action scene with positive authority, delivering not only a tight and potent low end but throwing out surround information like there's no tomorrow. The mix is well-engineered, too, so the heavy surround usage isn't just for oohs and aahs. Directional effects enjoy pinpoint placement and control, imaging is excellent, and everything sounds like it is right where it needs to be. Music is the biggest loser, sounding a little underpowered at times, but the track more than makes up for that shortcoming with that prodigious use of the entire soundstage in creating devastatingly realistic and highly enjoyable action sound effects. Whether the thump of a shotgun, the zipping of missiles through the soundstage, or the constant barrage of automatic weapons fire, Warner's track delivers a sustained and more-than-competent deluge of Action movie goodness. Dialogue, no surprise, is centered, focused, and always crisp. It might be blasphemy to call a Blu-ray lossy soundtrack as "satisfying," but this one is just that. It could be better, sure, and a point off the top for no lossless options, but this certainly isn't a fiasco of epic proportions.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines carries over the same grouping of extras that were found on the accidental 1080i release.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is the weakest entry in the series, but that's more an observation than a criticism. It's certainly the most "independent" of the (now four) pictures in the series in that it plays, for the most part, more as a Summer spectacular Action movie than it does a Terminator film, but at least Mostow's picture hits all the necessary notes that were required of it, and hits them hard to the point that Rise of the Machines should go down as a movie with one of the best endings in Hollywood history. Sure the film could have been better and sure it takes a few liberties, but as a combination Summer Action movie and a film playing the part of a bridge that brings the past and future installments together, it would be difficult to imagine anything all that much better than this. Warner's Blu-ray release of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines fixes the 1080p/1080i glitch and delivers a good overall video presentation. Unfortunately, the disc retains the same (albeit high quality) lossy soundtrack, but it also retains the exhaustive array of extra content. Recommended.
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